For the last year, recruitment and other workforce solutions businesses have been deciding what their future working arrangements may look like. Will all employees and contract workers return to Covid-19-secure workplaces? Will there be a shift towards a hybrid office and homeworking model? Will there be a wholescale move to working from home?
The surveys to date suggest that many businesses are turning to a hybrid working model while they continue to assess the fallout from the pandemic. Whatever arrangement is best for you, businesses need to start to future-proof their contracts and employee arrangements, and allow for the increased use of remote-working contract workers.
Protecting your business: contracts and data
Businesses will need to consider the degree of flexibility that they wish to build in to their working arrangements. The extent of changes to employment contracts, contract worker contracts, existing policies and procedures and the formulation of an agile working policy will all need to be considered.
Enhanced safeguards to protect your confidential information and business interests will be vital. There are also General Data Protection Regulation implications to address, such as the issues that arise from processing personal data at home, data security and the monitoring of agile workers.
Recruitment often sees a high turnover of recruitment consultants and after the past year, some consultants will be getting itchy feet – perhaps they might want to branch out on their own or they may be looking to go to a competitor – and even take other employees with them too. With a remote or semi-remote workforce, it is difficult to pick up on the telltale signs of suspicious activity. Therefore, now is a timely opportunity to check the drafting of restrictive covenants and social media policies to ensure that your business is protected.
Health and safety
Businesses will need to consider how to comply with their legal duties around the health and safety of agile workers and how to enable workers to carry out their activities in a healthy, happy and productive manner. Factors to keep in mind include the home workstation assessment, provision of work equipment and the training of employees and assessors in setting up workstations. In addition, the impact of lone working on stress and mental health also needs to be carefully monitored with suitable interventions in place.
Tax and homeworking
Whenever an employer and employee consider moving to an employment model that involves homeworking, both parties need to be clear about the financial and tax implications of the arrangement. Where expense payments or benefits in kind are provided to an employee, they are normally deemed to have been made by reason of employment and so are taxable. However, a number of complex exemptions can apply in the context of homeworking and so careful advice, planning and consideration is needed.
Help with change
Osborne Clarke can provide structured step-by-step advice to assist you through this process. To find out more, click here, connect with your usual contact, or get in touch with one of our experts.
For the impact of hybrid working more generally, please click here